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With the design aesthetic well thought-out, the next piece of the equation for Parker and Malkemus was finding the right retail partner. Enter Nordstrom. “[I’m so amazed] at how educated their salespeople are. They are full of pride. It’s so nice when someone is that invested and cares that much — that kind of partnership is so rare these days,” Parker said.
And she’s already looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the retail business from her new partner.
“They’re mentoring us in a way because they know the space and the customer and what sells,” she said. “If we’re entrenched in an idea or a philosophy and something’s not selling, we’ll have to go back and talk about that. We’re not going to be fools. We want to have a successful business.”
By all accounts, Nordstrom is bullish on its newest star footwear player. (They have not yet seen the handbag and trench coat collections, and have not committed to those buys.)
“Based on her obvious connection to footwear — as a fashion icon and through her leading role with “Sex & the City” — it seems like a natural progression that she is now turning her hand to design,” said Scott Meden, EVP and GMM of shoes for the retailer. “Sarah Jessica is above all authentic, and her taste is impeccable. Her aesthetic and approach to fashion are an inspiration to so many women.”
For his part, Malkemus wants to make sure he grows the business steadily. He’s not interested in following trends or having an overnight sensation.
And Parker is itching to hit the road to promote the line at Nordstrom stores. In fact, that’s one of the first things she inquired about.
“I wouldn’t do it any other way,” she said. “Just look at Laura Mercier [cosmetics]. Laura worked those customer relationships and told her story over and over again. That’s a great example of how to get down and dirty in the trenches. I told George I want to go on a whistle-stop tour, to the obvious doors and the non-obvious ones. We know Los Angeles, Miami and New York are important markets, but what about the smaller doors where people are enthusiastic. They deserve the opportunity, too.”
She’s clearly eager to get valuable feedback from her consumers, but is she ready for the cutthroat criticism of the fashion world? “I’ve never let other people’s opinions affect my choices too much,” Parker said. “There are lots of people who’ve been in business for a long time who’ve done it really well. I’ve loved wearing everyone’s shoes.
“But no, I never read people’s opinions. What role could it possibly play in how invested we already are? I don’t think anyone else’s opinion matters. But we are going to be as enthusiastic as we can be and work with the greatest people we can,” she added.
And Malkemus envisions creating a timeless collection. “I would just be happy to see the same girl who bought an original SJP pump come back in three or five years and still have the first shoe.”